You might have seen a reader (Debbie) had asked me a question in an earlier post about running faster. I answered that but have since thought of a couple more things:
By stretching we make ourselves more supple and flexible and there is some controversy around as to whether it is better to stretch either before, or after, a run. Personally I find it easier to have a stretch after running as my muscles seem more pliable and easier to stretch. Stretching cold, stiff muscles can cause injuries, by my reckoning. How can stretching help you run faster? Try some lunges. That is, take one big step forward and gradually move your body weight forward as you do this. Allow the trailing leg below the knee to become almost horizontal. Hold it there for up to 30 seconds but release sooner if it hurts. Do that a few times each day and after two weeks you will be taking longer strides very naturally. Longer strides = increased speed.
Be patient, build up slowly
Don't expect too much too soon. Knowing how much will depend on many factors but as you become more in tune with your body, you'll know when you reach your limit.
Run on a treadmill
You can "force" yourself to run faster by setting a specific speed and refuse to back off until you have reached your goal in terms of time or distance. Again, build up gradually.
Some treadmills have programmes designed to simulate running different course (up hills, fast and slow speeds). These are worth checking our if you have the opportunity.
This is where you can vary the intensity of a run. Once you're warmed up, fix your eyes on a landmark 100 metres away; it could be a parked car, a tree, a speed bump etc. Then sprint for it as fast as you can and arrive panting and out of breath. Jog for a few minutes and do it again, then repeat a couple more times before you finish your run. This builds up the capacity of your heart to pump a good volume of blood but please be mindful of your maximum heart rate (I don't want to hear you've suffered a heart attack!). Increasing the intensity raises the probability of enjoying the Runner's high!
Run with someone else
I find I tend to coast when I run on my own if I'm not careful as I spend 99% of my time running alone. Running with someone, especially if they are a little fitter, will naturally push you as an effective pace setter.
Enter a race!
For someone like me who is not exactly competitive by nature, I love entering races and pitching myself against others and I can't wait to see the results on the race website! The atmosphere of a race together with the pace and whole purpose will push anyone to do their best.
Running on a road
The surface you use to run on makes a real difference. Rough soft ground is slow, especially if you're picking up mud or dealing with other things like roots, branches and so on. Running on a flat smooth suface is naturally faster. Maybe try a track if you can?
Use a stopwatch, or maybe an ordinary analgue watch or, if you're flash, a Garmin GPS enabled watch. I prefer the simplicity of an ordinary watch and this will be the subject of a rambling debate sometime. This morning I borrowed my wife's smart phone on which she had loaded a useful app:
Hope that helps Debbie and other readers.
All the best,